Yes, those are paint cans, and yes, they're filled with booze. But we'll get to that later.
First, the announcement:
You may not have known it, but Citizen Public House has a second floor. Nestled near the back of the restaurant, up a shady staircase above the busy kitchen, sits a remodeled lounge that has until now sat dormant. But no longer! Citizen Public House announced Tuesday that the upstairs bar will be open to the public in mid-December.
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Dubbed Citizen R+D ("research and development" or "research and drinking" depending on whom you ask), the second-story bar will act as a playground for mixologist Richie Moe, whose drinks are already so far outside the box they have to view the box through a telescope.
House-made tinctures, barrel-aged cocktails, on-the-spot cotton candy, hand-crafted gin with coriander, lemon zest and curry, and other tasty-sounding oddities will be the norm here, and from the shape of the glass to the temperature and clarity of the ice in the drink, even the most minute detail won't be overlooked. Think of the place as an experience in science, art and architecture - but with cocktails.
Now, the dinner:
Also on Tuesday, Citizen Public House held another of its dinners in which crafty cocktails are paired with obscenely decadent dishes. This particular dinner, dubbed "Diageo Loco," featured spirits from Diageo, the London-based spirits producer that owns such brands as Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Bailey's and Guinness.
The pairings were the result of a collaborative process -- bartenders Richie Moe, Kris Korf and Kaitlin Tedhams came up with the cocktails, Chef Bernie Kantak came back with a dish, then the creators made minor tweaks to their recipes to make each combination sing.
A quick summary:
Course One: A scallop cake lettuce wrap with Korean pear/baby ginger salsa and ponzu. Kantak's scallops are always epic, and Kris Korf's take on a Pimms Cup, made with Pimms No. 1, lime and lemon zest, cucumber essence, Fevertree ginger beer and Asian pear juice, tasted like a visit to the spa feels: crisp, zesty, refreshing. The drink soothed the heat from the spicy dish.
Course Two: Apricot-dusted calf's belly with black tapioca and tea pan jus. Kaitlin Tedhams crafted a sugary, girly cocktail from Ciroc Peach vodka, orange liqueur, lemon juice, prickly pear syrup and green tea. The drink was a little sweet for our table, and the super-fatty, super-tender meat made the fruity notes in the cocktail stand out even more.
Course Three featured lemongrass-curry pumpkin soup, which was the best thing I tasted all night. Sweet and herbal and so spicy I could feel the top of my head tingle, the soup was so good it almost overshadowed Moe's "Tanqueray Rangpur Paint Can Slushy," which he made by crafting an extra-strength drink, mixing with crushed ice to dilute and mellow its harsh edges, throwing the whole mixture in a paint can, and shaking it up with an honest-to-god paint can mixer, which Moe joked he bought from a methhead earlier that day. It worked -- the drink was incredibly smooth, with lots of grapefruit and the perfect balance of gin and floral accents.
A winner for presentation, Course Four was served in a deep bowl and combined "tender belly" bacon braised in root beer atop a bed of steel-cut oats. The cocktail, made with Don Julio 70 añejo claro tequila, root beer and bacon-espresso foam, should be a drink at Starbucks -- "I'll take a venti bacon-espresso Frappuccino, please!" Though there wasn't enough tequila in the cocktail for me, the course was still the kind of breakfast I can get behind.
Course Five's cocktail featured a collectible Bulliet bourbon glass filled with Tedhams' take on an old-fashioned, meaning it included muddled blood orange, Marasca cherries and spicy chile-infused bitters. Kantak delivered another highlight with his dish of Berkshire pork butt, dried cherry sauce and sweet potato risotto.
Dessert came in the form of a Tracy Dempsey Originals spice cupcake with salted caramel frosting and an orange/fig compote. To pair, Moe crafted "Egg Nog" (quotation marks his, which has me unsettled, looking back on it) made with Zacapa 23 años solera dark rum that was nonetheless the best egg nog I've ever nogged. It had the perfect amount of rum, looked thick as cookie dough but had a whipped texture as soft as a bag full of puppy dog ears. Starting in December, Moe will be premiering a new nog each week, and if they're anything like this, I'll be stopping in to try them all.